in spring of 2010 i taught a course whose title i kept changing from anthropology of music and technology to music and exchange, music and global flows, technology and global flows, etc. in the end, the class was successful but should have done more to think about exchange and the internet (as keith hart writes here, for example). i’ll be writing more about this later, but i don’t feel you can successfully write an anthropology of the internet without thinking about a very maussian exchange… at any rate, here is my syllabus for those interested in the paths.
In recent years, music here in New York City and around the world has changed dramatically due to computers and other technologies. Beginning with a critical overview of archive and technology and moving to globalization/global flows, this course entertains the idea that music and globalization go hand and hand, dealing with shifts such as:
- The rise of the “global south” in music popularity, including cumbia and baile funk;
- Internet exchanges of DJs, music blogs and other online arenas;
- Musical relationships like “world music,” cultural patrimony, tourism, etc;
This course is interdisciplinary in its sources, but anthropological in its methodology: we are, like the people we read, participants in cultures, listeners of music and sometimes producers. Thus, from sources as diverse as anthropology, online writing and music videos, guest speakers, and music itself, the course will urge students to see music not only as an aesthetic – and fun – form, but as a vital component of human culture, engaging its religious, historical, economic and political dimensions.
for future record – or if you are also a teacher interested in teaching anthropology of witchcraft – i’ve posted my syllabus below.
This course introduces students to both historical and contemporary debates in cultural anthropology over what is conventionally known as magic, witchcraft and sorcery. However, whereas traditionally anthropologists – coming from the West – sketched these belief systems as separate and more backward than “modern” ideologies, this experimental course will attempt to bridge both arenas, offering instead that an anthropological approach to the key concepts of Western thought, such as rationality, science and medicine is just as vital – and tenuous – to cultural creativity as magic. This class takes as its core analytic concept, then, that rather than distinguishing between these systems, we must see how they all foreground the body, including race and class, in what we assume to be merely religious, or old-fashioned superstition.
This course tacks, therefore, into two paths that may be different from a traditional anthropology course: first, we emphasize contemporary anthropological texts alongside old ones in order to analyze not just what they say, but how they were written (a reflection on anthropology itself). Second, it intends to call into question key assumptions built into our own cultural context by tying together work in different realms, hoping that through a class that questions everything, students will be encouraged to make creative connections between cultural theories and current social, political, and economic issues in order to better understand—and influence—the world around us and the peoples that occupy it.
Download syllabus in PDF here.